When Disgaea: Hour of Darkness launched way back in the early PS2 days, few could’ve predicted that the critically acclaimed strategy/RPG would generate a series of sequels and spin-offs that would last for years to come. And yet, here we are, talking about an appealing blend of Disgaea and the similarly-styled Atelier franchise. It’s a combined effort by Nippon Ichi Software and Gust and it’s called Trinity Universe , which should be available in North America in June. Now, although the familiar anime presentation is still in existence, this is the first time we’ll see Etna and Co. in 3D. Furthermore, we’ll get two separate storylines that take place in the Netheruniverse, an appropriately bizarre area that is plagued by space debris. You can either play as the demon king Kanata, who doesn’t want to rule anything and would rather eat soba noodles all day, or the valkyrie Rizelea, who wants to punish Kanata for his negligence and restore peace to the Netheruniverse.
Okay, now here’s where things get a little loopy. While you’re reading this, recall the Item World from Disgaea ; it might help you to make sense of the concept, which on the surface appears to be downright psychotic. Floating around the world map are random pieces of junk, ranging from refrigerators to…well, birthday cake. In order to rid the world of these bothersome items, you have to actually enter each piece of junk and destroy its gravitation core. By doing so, the junk will apparently break the Netheruniverse’s gravitational pull and float off into space. Obviously, a dungeon-like area lurks inside each offending object, which is where you’ll do battle against hordes of enemies, all evidently interested in keeping the garbage right where it is. However, there is a catch: you can’t stick around for too long, lest you drift too far from your home. This time limit may end up annoying some RPG aficionados but it certainly spices things up from a gameplay standpoint.
As you go along, you can rest up at inns and shop around for the necessary items and equipment. The battles are random although sometimes, a shadow will appear out of nowhere and track you down, intent on crushing your invading party. Not surprisingly, the combat will be turn-based and revolve around the Skill Link system, where you can press different face buttons to execute combination attacks. If you hit the buttons in the right order, you can create some massive chain attacks, which will cost you fewer AP than if you were to lay about randomly. It’s a fairly simple setup: the square button lets you perform a light attack, the X button is a slower but more powerful strike, and the triangle and circle buttons will be used for casting spells and healing your party. We’re not entirely sure how this factors into the turn-based aspect – this almost sounds a lot more like a real-time hack ‘n slash mechanic – but it should still be intriguing. Besides, we have plenty of faith in these developers.
The fans might be wondering if we’ll see the return of familiar character advancement systems, like transmigration and weapon customization. Well, we know there’s some form of weapon customization (not too sure about the transmigration) and – shock of shocks – it sounds all kinds of quirky. Apparently, you find these little decals that you actually stick on weapons; the picture on the decal dictates both the type of skill and the animation you’ll see in combat. …and just when we thought we’ve heard all the ways we can upgrade a weapon in a video game. Anyway, Trinity Universe is definitely geared to the niche crowd who has always appreciated NIS and Gust for delivering traditional, old-school RPGs. And as we always say, turn-based is hard to find on consoles these days, so you should take advantage whenever you can.